Currently on view (Gallery 306)

Moses and the Egyptians

1982Acrylic and oil stick on canvas
185.9 x 137 x 4 cm

Moses and the Egyptians and Man from Naples, both completed in 1982, were created at a particularly important moment in the career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, after his discovery as an artist, and before his period of maximum productivity. Both pieces are essential for understanding the development of his painting during the 1980s.

At the center of the composition, one can distinguish the profile of Moses suggested with some white lines that appear to be the result of an instantaneous, unpremeditated impulse. This same color not only envelops the gigantic tablets of the law, but extend around the prophet’s profile in the form of expressive drips and drops. The tablets also contain a series of inscriptions in an arrangement that looks more orderly and contained, unlike the one in Man from Naples. This work obviously alludes to a biblical episode that can also be related to the history of Africa.

Original title

Moses and the Egyptians




Acrylic and oil stick on canvas


185.9 x 137 x 4 cm

Credit line

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa Gift, Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich